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Sensitive Teeth

The inside of a tooth is mostly made up of dentin, which contains microscopic tubules which communicate with the tooth’s inner pulp (nerve) chamber. A hard outer layer of enamel protects the dentin within the crown portion of your tooth, and the dentin extending down to the root of your tooth is protected by a layer of cementum. Dentin hypersensitivity or nerve irritation occurs whenever dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, exposing the nerve endings to hot, cold, acidic or sugary foods and this is commonly referred to as “sensitive teeth”.

The following dental conditions can cause sensitive teeth:

  • Worn tooth cementum at gumline from using a hard bristle toothbrush and/or using incorrect toothbrushing technique.
  • Tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages.
  • Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that exposes the tooth’s dentin.
  • Gum recession that leaves your root surface (cementum) exposed.
  • Grinding your teeth at night.
  • Post dental treatment sensitivity – common, and usually temporary, especially with procedures such as crowns, fillings and teeth whitening procedures.

After we determine the reason for the dental sensitivity, we can treat the underlying cause. Treatment could be to remove tooth decay and placing a dental filling or replacing an old defective dental filling with a new one. However, if your discomfort comes from gum loss exposing root surfaces, application of desensitising varnish is often required. Sometimes over-the-counter desensitising toothpastes can block off the exposed tubules in the dentin to provide relief from tooth sensitivity.

Tooth sensitivity is often an early warning sign from the tooth of an underlying problem. If the underlying problem isn’t clearly identified and addressed, it is highly likely the sensitivity will progressively get worse. Additionally, depending on the source of the sensitivity, irreversible irritation and damage may be caused to the tooth’s pulp (nerve) resulting in persistent dental sensitivity or pain.

Let's Bring Back Your Healthy Teeth